Don’t let the low batting average fool you: Jose Bautista is still a monster

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Jose Bautista’s batting average has hovered around .200 all season, but don’t let that trick you into thinking he’s turned back into a pumpkin after a pair of MVP-caliber years.

Bautista smacked his 15th homer last night, which puts him on pace for 43 on the season after going deep 43 times last year and 54 times in 2010. He’s also on pace to draw more than 90 walks for the third straight year, has a nearly even strikeout-to-walk ratio at 40-to-32, and ranks fourth among AL hitters in RBIs.

In other words he’s every bit the same homer-hitting, walk-drawing monster he’s been for the past two seasons, except missing 50 points of batting average. And even that’s changing, as Bautista has gone 27-for-93 (.290) in his last 25 games to raise his batting average from .177 to .228 in less than a month.

And that should continue to rise as his luck events out, because Bautista’s batting average on balls in play is currently the lowest in the entire league at .209, which is both unsustainably awful and 65 points below his career norms. I’ll be shocked if he’s not back among the AL’s top 10 in all of homers, RBIs, runs, slugging percentage, and OPS by the All-Star break.

Clay Buchholz makes first major league start in over a year

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The Diamondbacks selected the contract of pitcher Clay Buchholz from Triple-A Reno ahead of Sunday’s game against the Mets. It marked Buchholz’s first major league start since April 11 last season (also against the Mets) when he was a member of the Phillies. Shortly after that start, he was diagnosed with a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass and he ended up not being able to pitch the rest of the season.

Buchholz signed a minor league deal with the Royals but he opted out of his contract at the beginning of this month. The Diamondbacks signed him to a minor league deal a few days later, needing depth with a depleted starting rotation. Buchholz made two starts for Reno before getting the call Sunday.

Buchholz, 33, pitched well on Sunday against the Mets, lasting five innings and limiting the opposition to a run on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts. His only blemish was allowing a solo home run to Amed Rosario leading off the sixth. He was immediately relieved by T.J. McFarland afterwards.

It is not yet clear if Buchholz will get another turn through the D-Backs’ rotation.